RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #21 (JANUARY 22ND 1996) – TWO TITLE CHANGES BUT HULK HOGAN IS STILL THE MAIN-EVENT

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

maxresdefault

Attentions are turned to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Ric Flair currently holds the gold but defended it last week against The Man Called Sting. The encounter ended when Lex Luger got himself involved in the match and “inadvertently” cost Sting the title so Ric Flair retained. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were both eyeing up the title as well, with the Macho Man set to challenge for the World Title on Episode #21. However, Hogan felt that he should have had the title shot instead with evidence in Macho Man LOSING clean to Lex Luger last week. Savage still wanted to take his shot but despite being at odds, Savage still helped Hogan beat Meng in the main-event of Nitro.

 

Date: January 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Las Vegas, Nevada

Rating: 2.7

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

The shows starts with Konnan who is, and I quote, the “Mexican Heavyweight Champion” interrupting the announcers. He cuts a promo on Psicosis, who he is facing at Clash of Champions. This was literally over in like 30 seconds. It also didn’t seem to matter considering Alundra Blayze did this exact same promo a month ago and this has so far led to nothing. I mean Konnan ends up becoming a main-stay in WCW but still… there’s little reason for me to care about the Mexican Heavyweight Champion being on Nitro.

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/a bunch of women for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

images

Believe it or not, this match OPENED WCW Nitro. This match was like Savage and Flair’s title match the week before Starrcade as it was very good brawling on the most part. I think, in its self, that was a big part of the problem that it felt like a repeat. However, I think the finish played off really well here but had its underlining problems which we’ll get to later.

There was a massive line of beautiful women that came down to the ring before Macho Man came down to the ring. Funnily enough, supposedly one these girls was Linda Hogan and another one was in fact Woman… a.k.a Nancy Sullivan at the time I believe. In fact, during the match, Flair went up to Woman and tried to woo her but Woman slapped him and Flair has a tremendous sell as he crashes down to the floor!

Before Savage can make his entrance, Mean Gene Okerlund and Hulk Hogan cuts him off! All I can think is of all the times this journalist and friend can go up to Savage to ask this question, they both decide to do it RIGHT BEFORE his WCW World title match? I found that kinda hilarious.

Hogan wanted to wish Savage luck tonight but still wanted the first shot at the title. Yeah, Hulk Hogan is bargaining and asking for the first shot at a championship that Randy Savage hasn’t even won yet! Savage tells his lady friends to get down to the squared circle and let’s strip Flair of his belt.

Before we get into the match itself, they revealed a lot of big returns coming at Clash of Champions. They revealed that Miss Elizabeth would be accompanying Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan down to the ring for their match with Ric Flair and the Giant at Clash of Champions and the Road Warriors would be returning for a tag team match.

It’s actually astonishing how many old stars WCW were plugging and promoting for this Clash of Champions show. For a company that were bragging and boasting about how they were bringing in fresh new talent and they were the hottest wrestling promotion in the world. The reason I find that funny is because for a promotion so determined to boast about how great they are, they come off as panicky with this “plucking” of stars. Not from WWF, but just from old stars of the past. But hell, why would they have any reason to panic?

Savage and Ric brawl on the outside and then Savage hits a clothesline with his good arm and goes to work. His injured arm was still taped up. Flair cuts him off with a back elbow. Flair goes to work on the bad arm. Both men brawl on the outside which leads to Savage doing a back drop on the floor. Bischoff said they’re gonna go to a commercial break to which Savage gets on the top rope for the double axe handle. Bischoff goes “oh don’t do it!” and then Savage just misses, hits the metal barricade and then they go to commercial!

WCW promotes WCW Magazine during this commercial.

Savages does the punches in the corner. This was just a whole bunch of brawling and Flair and Savage were really good in that department so not a lot of complaints. This was a very old school scrappy match like the Savage vs Flair match from a month ago. Savage battles for the backslide.

Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock and Savage screams in agony as Flair grabs the ropes for leverage. Eventually the referee Randy Anderson does the 5 count after he catches Flair in the act. Randy literally drags Flair off of Savage and pushes him backwards and he was not putting up with Flair’s shenanigans! This was great stuff from Randy and from Flair of course.

Savage delivers two double axe handles and goes for the elbow drop but Jimmy Hart gets on the apron. Arn gets on the apron too and he tries to use the brass knuckles but accidentally hits Flair. Hogan knocks down Arn. Savage hits the elbow drop for the win as the fans go CRAZY for this finish, absolute crazy, as the title changes hands. Randy Savage is once again the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

Hogan celebrates with Savage which was both poetic and really undermined Savage as the champion. There’s two reasons from a storyline point though why this title change was great.

  1. Arn has been cutting all of these promos in the last month about how keeping the title on Flair was the most important thing for the Four Horsemen and he buries the new guys for starting fires they don’t want. Yet in this scenario, HE’S the one responsible for costing Flair the title.
  2. At World War III, when Savage won the title, Hogan cut off his celebration and kicked off about the finish of that battle royal. Here, he’s all happy for his friend, despite feeling he should be the champion. He was happy for his friend Macho Man for winning the title and bringing home the gold to the good guys.

Then Savage got the mic and said “STOP THE MUSIC.” Mean Gene got in the ring. Savage said Hogan is celebrating like he won the title himself. Savage reminded Hogan that he won it and he is the WCW World Champion. Hogan congratulates Savage but reminds Savage that he Hulk Hogan helped him out, his best friend helped him out. Hogan said he’s coming for that belt. Hogan said he would do whatever it took for the Hulkamaniacs to him get to that position as fans boo Hogan! Savage said if Hogan beats him, Savage said he’s gonna shake his hands. Savage said when he beats Hogan, Hogan better shake his hands. They shook hands on it and celebrated after taking care of the world title business. Both of them were going OOOOOH YEEAAH and going crazy. A nice celebration.

maxresdefault (7).jpg

As good as a feel-good moment this title change was, I must discuss something. I’ve talked for years and years and years about hot-shotting titles. They are one of my most biggest wrestling pet-peeves, the lack of care taken to these titles that are supposed to be the cornerstone of these promotions. So many title changes which would further the title’s reputation. WWE does this ALL the time will literally all of their titles except for the top two titles. Every month, there’s a new United States Champion it seems or new RAW Tag Team Champions.

If this was WWE 2019, I’d be rightfully laying into them if they booked the world title like this. Here, for WCW 1996, I must do the same. When I started this series, I started from September 1995:

  1. Hulk Hogan was the original champion.
  2. The Giant “won” that title after winning a match via disqualification at Halloween Havoc in October because Jimmy Hart screwed with the contract.
  3. The title was vacated after this controversy on an episode of Nitro.
  4. Randy Savage won the title at World War III in a match where Hulk Hogan was never officially eliminated.
  5. Ric Flair won the title at Starrcade after shenanigans and interference from the Four Horsemen
  6. Randy Savage regained the title on this episode of Nitro after shenanigans and interference from Hulk Hogan, Arn Anderson and Jimmy Hart.

In every one of these episodes following Starrcade, they’ve promoted SuperBrawl and they try to promote how everybody wants to be the WCW Champion. If this title changes hands so frequently, nobody is gonna gain anything from holding this supposedly prestigious belt.

What did The Giant gain from winning this title? Other than having “the rub” of beating Hulk Hogan, did this get The Giant any more over? Not really. Did winning the title get Randy Savage more over, especially after 3 DQ finishes on Nitro episodes? Not really. Did winning the title get Ric Flair over? No. He’s at the exact same position as a main-eventer.

I understand sometimes backstage politics does influence all of this and, from what I’ve heard, this affected these title changes. Supposedly, Flair didn’t wanna drop the title clean to Hogan so they put the belt on Savage. However, none of that matters and has no real long term gain for anyone of these guys in the long term. Maybe you could argue that The Giant gained something long term but again, he’s still an afterthought after so many guys now.

Like, will this really do anything more for Savage for the time being? Not really. At least I don’t think so. I mean this hot-shot problem will eventually sort itself out shortly as spoiler… Hulk Hogan will win the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan was already the biggest star on the show anyway. If the title is presented as anything less important than one particular individual, why should I care about who the champion is?

 

Dean Malenko vs Brian Pillman

PertinentFortunateBluebottle-poster

I hated not liking this match but at the very core, this was an OK cruiserweight match that really didn’t do anything for either of these men and it had a somewhat botched finish.

Dean Malenko tried early Texas Cloverleaf but Brian Pillman avoided it and escaped under the ropes. Pillman goes “I’m the shooter because I have a Full Metal Jacket”… that I loved considering the story of that film in particular with a guy going crazy while training for the army. Had some oddly fitting parallels to Pillman!

Pillman gets the heat early on but Malenko hits some big moves such as a brainbuster to get back into the match. Pillman hits a beautifully controlled tornado DDT but doesn’t go for the cover and gets cocky. Pillman chops away at Malenko but Malenko hits a Tiger Powerbomb for a 2 count. Pillman tries another Tornado DDT but Malenko pushes him off.

Malenko hits a great gutbuster and locks on the rolling kneebar but Pillman got the ropes. Malenko’s foot gets trapped in the ropes, Pillman covers Malenko and even with one of Malenko’s shoulders up, referee Nick Patrick still counts the pin. Patrick could easily see the foot but still counted the pin anyway.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray © vs Sting and Lex Luger for the WCW Tag Team Championship

maxresdefault (8).jpg

I’m pretty sure we had a situation like this before but of all the people to start of this match, it was Stevie Ray and Lex Luger? Sting and Booker could have put some good work in there to bring life into the match from the get-go but we had to see Stevie Ray and Lex Luger squaring off in this tag team title match?

As expected, both men were horrible. Stevie has some horrible clobbering blows to which Luger demonstrates some horrible selling to. Luger does a double clothesline and soon makes the hot tag to Sting. Sting runs wild with Stinger Splashes. Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock but the ref stops Luger from getting into the ring for some reason as Booker does a scissors kick to break it up as the ref is distracted. This axe kick bonks Sting right in the head for the heat.

The heat was not tremendous in the slightest but the heels getting the heat on Sting while Luger waits for the hot tag would at least be better than getting the heat on Luger while Sting waits for the hot tag. Booker got in the ring and delivered an arm lock, putting pressure on the Stinger. Sting fires away and breaks free but Booker drops Sting with a top rope face smash. Luger breaks up the pin.

Sting eventually finds a second wind but while the ref talks to Stevie for some reason, Booker drops Sting with a jawbreaker on the rope.

Fans go “LETS GO STING” as Stevie goes a bloody nerve hold and he couldn’t even do this move and sell the fact that it hurt. He just got on top of him and put his hand on his shoulder in a lazily fashion.

Sting gets his arm up at three when the referee checks out Sting. In fact, Sting actually sold this as if he was gassed and out of it so kudos to Sting with how he sold and he was a good seller in his own right. Harlem Heat does a poorly coordinated double gourdbuster.

Booker misses the Harlem Hangover. Sting eventually makes the tag to Luger. This was rather confusing. Luger goes to work. Then Jimmy Hart got on the apron, gave something to Luger and ran out like at the speed of the Flash. It’s weird because Luger gets back on the apron and all of the sudden, Sting is back in the ring! He’s in there as if the hot tag never happened! I wonder if Jimmy missed his queue so maybe Luger was like, “I gotta make the tag” and do something while Jimmy goes down to the ring. Because Luger is weirdly on the apron again and then Sting tags him back in.

Luger got the tag, used a fistful of dollars, knocked out the Harlem Heat member to score the pin and win the tag team titles. I can’t remember who Luger KO’d but either way, a second title change on the same night.

Luger celebrates like crazy as Sting doesn’t know at first whats going on. Luger goes “we won! “but Sting then just goes “yeah alright” and kinda doesn’t question it as they’re the tag team champions as the two celebrates. Very similar to the TV title rematch the night after World War III, where Kimberley and Johnny B Badd does something very similar to this. Either way, Lex Luger and Sting are the new WCW Tag Team Champions.

 

Hulk Hogan vs WCW United States Champion One Man Gang

sg-19870921_omg_hulk--9ca7fef03dc72f9214e46e9837e0539a

So to recap, Luger and Sting are contenders to the WCW tag team titles. Randy Savage is a contender to the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan is not considered a title contender for the WCW US Championship despite having a match with him? Odd.

Hogan and One Man Gang start the match basically ballroom dancing around the ring with a lock up. It really didn’t look aggressive in the slightest. Hogan fights dirty in this match with pokes in the eye and biting at the One Man Gang. Hogan no sells a big body splash from the One Man Gang.

Hogan does three Irish Whips, big boots which doesn’t knock him down, slams him like he did with Andre and nobody cared, Hogan then did a leg drop and won. Basically that was the match.

I will say that Hogan decided on his own to test One Man Gang’s speed during this match, with Irish Whip after Irish Whip and One Man Gang ran and ran and by the end of the match he was goosed! I don’t know if Hogan was on a quest to expose the One Man Gang but he looks miles behind Hogan in terms of fitness which is a pretty bad thing!

Zodiac, Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, Randy Savage, Pillman all come out. They all brawl. Zodiac backs away The Giant yet again as I guess Flair is trying to stop the Horsemen while Pillman tries to egg The Giant on.

Hogan says afterwards he’s gonna do everything he can to get to that #1 contender spot. Hogan talks about the secret weapon again which I guess was KEVIN GREENE who will also be there at Clash of Champions. I guess that’s who they were referencing to a few weeks ago when they talked about the secret weapon. Hogan talks about Miss Elizabeth. Savage simply said that Giant and Ric Flair were MEAT! I loved Hogan’s and Savage’s facial expressions as they both cut promos. I just love the larger than life aspects of these characters where they were just allowed to go absolute bonkers with their promos!

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

There were moments I liked about this show but the whole show in general was just uneventful to me. Obviously, the two title changes were newsworthy! But I feel it would have felt more so if they weren’t so seemingly unimportant with Hulk Hogan’s position on the card. Luger and Sting winning the tag titles obviously advances that story but Hulk Hogan beating One Man Gang in a random match just seemed anti-climatic when Savage winning the title would be more climatic. Even if Sting and Luger won the titles as the main-event, the fans would go off the air wondering what is Sting going to think after that finish.

This show just didn’t do it for me this week. I will not be watching Clash of Champions so the next Nitro review will be for the show after Clash of Champions. If enough people do wish for me to review Clash of Champions I will consider it. Really the only noteworthy match for that show will be Hogan and Savage vs Flair and Giant. Looking at that card for that show, it doesn’t look like a show I’ll regret missing.

I will see you all again with the review of episode #22 of WCW Monday Nitro!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

Advertisements

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #20 (JANUARY 15TH 1996) – HULK HOGAN VS MENG MAIN EVENTS OVER A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

maxresdefault

The 12th world title reign of Ric Flair is underway, with the Four Horsemen looking to keep the title on the Nature Boy as their top priority. Flair and Arn Anderson teamed up to face recent former champions Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in the tag team match main-event. Hogan and Savage picked up the win but the Four Horsemen’s planned post-match beatdown was cut-off by the Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen, because of past comments by Brian Pillman, were now at odds at the end of the show as they brawled to close the show

 

Date: January 15th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Miami, Florida

Rating: 3.5

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

The show starts with the commentators running down the card as usual and they reveal that Ric Flair will defend the WCW World title against Sting tonight and then the winner would go on to defend the title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Keep that in mind when you read about what went down in the first match of the evening.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

2

Nothing about this match really differed it from any other Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match we’ve seen in this series so far. The announcers even point out that Luger had apparently won 3 matches in a row against Savage so he’s got his number, as Luger has been saying in a number of promos against Savage. I remember Luger beating Savage at World War III and Savage’s title defence a month ago on Nitro, but I can’t remember the third match. Unless, it was a Saturday Night show which I haven’t watched. Either way, they make it clear that Luger has been getting the better of Savage.

Luger tried to bring a chair into the ring at the start of the match. He threw it to Savage but the ref intercepted him from Savage and then Luger went to work following Savage’s tussle with the referee. A dastardly move to gain the upper-hand.

Savage battered away at Luger, smacking Luger’s head on the steps. Savage dropped a double axe handle. Some fans were actually chanting “Luger”. I have no idea why but Luger was over on this episode.

Savage choked away at Luger. Luger dropped a few elbows at about 1% of the speed of Dolph Ziggler… which to be fair, isn’t a bad thing. When Ziggler throws 10 super fast elbow drops repeatedly, it makes everyone of those elbow drops seem so useless when the guy just kicks at one or two or whatever. Luger does a few big elbow drops and, because his arms are massive as he’s Lex Luger, they hurt the ribs of the Macho Man.

Savage eventually went for the Elbow drop and when I mean he went for the elbow drop, Macho got some freaking HEIGHT on this elbow. He jumped high in the air with like 3 seconds of hang-time before coming crashing down onto this target. But in this instance, Savage crashed onto the mat and then Luger locked on the Torture Rack and beat Randy Savage CLEAN with a submission.…. WOW.

So going into a WCW World title match next week, Savage gets beat clean in the middle by Luger. Of all of the people that WCW tried to protect with DQ finishes, the one time they have a clean finish is when the #1 contender for the world title loses clean to Luger the heel. Amazing.

As my notes read… Why should Savage get a title shot after this? This is actually a relevant note going into Savage’s promo with Hulk Hogan later on.

I will say, this clean victory did come off as a legitimate big victory for Lex Luger. At the very least, it benefited someone.

 

The Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

horse1995

The match originally scheduled for this show was The Four Horsemen’s Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman facing off with The Dungeon of Doom’s Taskmaster and Hugh Morrus. Before anything went down though, the entirety of the Dungeon of Doom and the Four Horsemen came down together to the ring.

Bischoff said it was like something that came out of a Godfather movie. In the middle of all of this, I notice the One Man Gang is holding up the US title. Somehow, the title got switched from Kensuke Sasaki to the One Man Gang. At the very least, they put the title on a guy who is part of a big stable so at least it gives the Dungeon of Doom some credit. Mean Gene Okerlund got between the groups and interviewed them both. I loved this segment that followed.

Arn Anderson said that he and Taskmaster had a meeting of the minds. Arn reiterates that Ric Flair keeping the world title is the first order of business for the Horsemen. He said anything that gets in the way of business, they don’t want any part of it. Arn said there’s no winners and no financial gain, there’s only survivors from feuding with the Dungeon. Basically, he wants water under the bridge with the Dungeon.

Taskmaster, in response, puts over Flair as the 12 time world champion. He says no sports team can match that legacy. Apparently, Taskmaster agreed that the Horsemen will borrow “The Big Man” The Giant at Clash of Champions. It’s gonna be Hogan and Savage vs Giant and Ric Flair. Taskmaster agrees that there’s no winners and losers but Pillman, “this punk” as he called him, has gotta learn respect. Arn reminds the Taskmaster that they respect the Dungeon but they’re not afraid of them. Pillman starts to mouth off but Arn literally slaps the taste out of him.

Arn says “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.” Arn said it’s treat like a business and it’ll always be about the business as fellow Horsemen Chris Benoit stares a whole at Arn Anderson. I love this storyline… the young guns acting on emotion and not on business and Arn is trying to straighten him and Benoit out before they starts fires they don’t want. He really is the enforcer and out of the everybody in the ring, Arn came off as the coolest guy in the ring that also included Ric Flair. I loved it.

 

 

“Public Enemy” Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock vs “The American Males” Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Scotty Riggs

19960115_penem_amales--3724adbcce58ec4193915bce0beaf9e4

This was the debut of ECW Alumni Public Enemy in a WCW ring. I never really watched the “real” ECW if you will from the 1990s. It might be something to do once this series is over. I never watched Public Enemy in ECW so maybe they were actually really good in an extreme environment. But in the confides of a wrestling match, they looked completely lost in this match.

The American Males run wild on Public Enemy from the get-go. Riggs tried a clothesline on one of the members of Public Enemy but the Public Enemy member struggled to get over the top rope to take this clothesline.

Bagwell does a diving crossbody and smacked one of the Public Enemy members right on the face. The announcers never went through the trouble of identifying which member was which so I was trying to guess which one was which during this match.

The fans chant “ECW” of course. Riggs did a sunset flip on Grunge for a 2 count. Bagwell run wilds in the ring for the hot tag. Bagwell runs wild on both members of Public Enemy as the fans boo. Grunge got the victory. It’s just the match where the American Males win on the Public Enemy for the entire match and then Public Enemy just got the win out of nowhere. I totally forgot to write down what the finish was, I do apologise. It didn’t matter anyway as this was a nothing, mess or a match to me. The important stuff came after the match.

Rocco kicks Bagwell’s ass after the match as the Enemy get the table and even stacks the tables on top of each other. Bagwell is put on top of the tables as Rocco did a swanton bomb to a huge reaction as Riggs is also down on the floor. The fans liked Public Enemy here but this was a mess of a match to me. It just looked so out of the blue in the middle of this wrestling show to see hardcore action, like with Sabu at around the start of this series. Remember when Sabu would just win a match and then beat up the loser afterwards for no reason?

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

x1080 (1).jpg

Sting runs wild on Flair just like in any Flair vs Sting match. Sting hit Flair with a big suplerplex to which Flair acted like a fish out of water selling this move! It was pretty great.

Sting then tries a big splash to the floor, he gets high in the air, arms out, everything, and Flair just gets the knees up. You could tell these two men loved wrestling each other and they were so into their match with this energy and charisma they were they were demonstrating. It didn’t just come off like a routine thing.

Sting tries to attack Flair with a crossbody bouncing off the ropes but he crashed into the ropes. Sting locked on the sleeper but Ric reversed it into a back suplex. Sting fired back into the match with punches and eventually sent Flair crashing into the floor with Flair doing a vintage Flair flop.

Flair tried a Figure Four Leg Lock but Sting rolled it up for a near fall. Sting almost got Flair with a backslide. Sting tries a sunset slip but pulls down the trunks of Flair accidentally. What’s weird about doing this spot is that in 2017, Ric’s daughter aka Charlotte Flair did this exact same spot with Lana on an episode of SmackDown! Like the same spot where Lana accidentally pulls Charlotte’s gear down off when doing the same spot?

Jimmy Hart is yelling at Flair saying that he’s the man and all of that but yet didn’t warn Flair not to go to the top rope as he got pushed off by Sting!

Jimmy got on the apron as Luger came down to the ring. Luger got at Jimmy on the apron but Luger “accidentally” bumped Jimmy’s megaphone into Sting. Flair capitalised and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock to retain the title. Hogan and Savage came down and cleared the ring Of Flair and Luger. Hogan and Savage tended to Sting in the ring.

 

Mean Gene talks to Hogan, Sting and Savage in the ring. Hogan talks about Luger and said that hopefully the sense has been knocked into Sting. Savage said from day one that you couldn’t trust Luger and he tells Sting to wake up. Hogan yells that Luger is the reason Sting lost that match. Sting said he didn’t remember what happened as he was knocked loopy so he went backstage to talk to Luger about it. Then Hogan and Savage start talking. Hogan brings up some legitimate good points that Savage lost to Luger tonight and Hogan said he should get a title shot… and he’s right. Hogan said he should be the champion which, if you look at the storyline, makes total sense. He didn’t even lose the title clean… The Giant screwed him out of the title with a disqualification at Halloween Havoc.

He was mad that Savage got a title shot for next week. Savage tells Hogan to back off and that he deserved the title shot. Savage says he’s gonna take that shot. Hogan said he’s on a roll… what chance does Savage have? Savage walks out and Hogan says “you can’t walk out on me like that brother, we’re friends.” I actually loved that. They’re friends at this point and Hogan saw Savage as a friend but this is about the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The biggest prize in WCW. That I liked.

 

 

Hulk Hogan vs Meng w/Taskmaster

hqdefault (1)

In case you were wondering, yes Hulk Hogan vs Meng main-evented this show over Sting vs Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan being the biggest star but a regular Hulk Hogan vs Meng match main-eventing over a Sting vs Flair world title match is ridiculous.

Meng and Taskmaster both go to work on Hogan, with Taskmaster chopping at Hogan on the outside as Meng worked on him in the ring. Meng chokes at Hogan and yells like a wild beast… like a wild Samoan if you will!

Meng locks on the nerve hold as Hogan screams in agony! Meng misses a diving headbutt. Hogan fires hay-makers at Meng, punching away  at Meng. Hogan Hulks Up, hits the Big Boot and hits the Leg Drop. Savage stops Taskmaster from interfering, Hogan punches Taskmaster and then pins Meng.

That’s pretty much what happened in a lacklustre Nitro main-event.

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

A disappointing Nitro this week. I really wasn’t enthralled by this at all with the exception of the Four Horsemen/Dungeon of Doom segment. A lot of questionable booking decisions such as beating Savage clean before his world title match next week, Meng vs Hulk Hogan main-eventing over a WCW World title match and Public Enemy getting beaten up for the entire match before winning out of nowhere in their debut match. I just wasn’t into this week.

I have no plans to watch the Clash of Champions show, which I believe is after next week’s Nitro. I may watch Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair and The Giant just for storyline purposes as that’s the big storyline right now. I’ll see how I feel.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed that review and stay tuned for my Episode #21 review featuring Randy Savage challenging Ric Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #19 (JANUARY 8TH 1996) – THE MEGA POWERS VS THE HORSEMEN

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

maxresdefault

Ric Flair currently reigns as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, winning the title at Starrcade with the assistance of the Four Horsemen. The next night on Nitro, the Horsemen had varying levels of success. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit lost the former champion Randy Savage and Steven Regal respectively, prompting Brian Pillman to chew them both out for losing. Pillman himself was still stirring things up with the Dungeon of Doom while Ric Flair escaped with the WCW title on the same night following a typical Nitro disqualification victory against Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage ran wild on the Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom at the end of the show and then the babyfaces Hogan and Savage challenged Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a tag team match for the next episode of Nitro.

 

Date: January 8th 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Charleston, South Carolina

Rating: 2.8

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

My troubles with the WWE Network returned. If you read my WCW Starrcade 1995 review, I had so many problems watching that show because of the WWE Network. They returned this time but it was just the buffering problems. I had buffering problems galore. This was an unpleasant viewing of Nitro with the buffering issues on the Network. It was big for me especially during the Chris Benoit vs Alex Wright match on this show and the main-event tag team match. However, I powered on with this review and now I shall break down the show.

 

Chris Benoit w/Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright

maxresdefault (2).jpg

Man, Alex Wright did not look good in this match. Wright’s usually looked OK in the ring but when he was in there with Chris Benoit, it really gave great insight to the differences in wrestling ability between the two. Wright would usually just look completely out of place a lot of time and it was up to Benoit to save the match.

Benoit, as mentioned earlier, lost his match last week with Regal. With something to prove, Benoit clotheslined Wright before the bell and stomped away and followed up with a snap suplex.

Benoit hit a Northern Lights suplex and then got the attention of the referee as Brian Pillman, at ringside. choked Wright with his shirt.

Eric Bischoff then talks and rants about WCW having more talent in 3 months than the competition has had in the last 2 years. Bischoff really was on a mission here to just go after the WWF, throughout this show. They had this whole deal where they talked about being the top wrestling promotion in America and it was just a concentrated effort to take as many jabs at the WWF as possible. Surely, this had to turn off Nitro fans even at this stage of the Monday Night Wars.

Wright did a baseball slide dropkick. Wright crashed into Benoit with a dive to the outside. This didn’t look pretty at all as Wright just crashed and burned. Bischoff talked about Nitro being the most watched wrestling show on Monday. Now just a heads up… they lost the ratings battle last week and they lost the ratings battle this week too! So I have no idea what he was on about.

Bischoff rants about the WWF charging more for PPVS. Bischoff is so cocky talking about how great WCW is and at this point, the urge was there for me to fastforward about 5 years to the last Nitro episode in 2001 after WCW were bought out by the WWF!

Wright and Benoit just seemed on different pages a lot during this match. Wright did a dive to Pillman. Wright went for a dive on Benoit but Benoit got the knees up.

Benoit tried a dragon suplex but Wright reversed it. A few reversals in fighting for the suplex. turns into European uppercuts from Wright. Benoit eventually hit the deciding suplex with a Dragon Suplex for the win. I liked this finish.

Heenan made a comment where he said “he (Benoit) may be in the dog house, but he’s still a horseman.” I don’t know why, but I loved that line.

Mongo talked about it being a tainted match. In general though, Benoit just kicked his ass and essentially beat him clean in this match so lord knows what Mongo was on about.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Steven Regal w/Lord Robert Eaton

x1080.jpg

This really was a basic wrestling match for a few minutes turned into an excellent wrestling match by the end. It certainly took a while for the announcers to pay attention to the match anyway. They were talking about all kinds of other storylines as this was going on.

I think part of the problem was that it was mostly just grappling and mat-based wrestling from the get-go. They just wrestled, and wrestled, very well but there was nothing more to that. I feel like that’s a stupid statement but there was nothing to me that really stood for a long time during the opening parts of the match. It was very good wrestling but they were mostly just “testing the waters” for the first few minutes and it kinda went longer than it should have.

Bischoff at this point told us to “don’t buy the Royal Fumble.” …ha ha.

Eddie picked things up with some hurricanranas. Eddie tripped up Regal and went for a bridge pin fall attempt. Regal hit a big reverse suplex and then fired away with some heavy hits.

Regal had some great facial expressions during this match of frustration, intensity and snarled as he laid a beating into Guerrero. Regal turned things around. I did like how Eddie would try to get back in the match with some quick moves and tried to fire up but Regal would cut him of with a basic move like a European uppercut. It was simple but effective wrestling and story-telling at this point.

Regal tried a dragon sleeper of some kind. I also liked how Regal didn’t like just go to like a long sleeper hold for the heat. Regal punched the crap out of him for a long time, he did the odd submission and then went back to beating up Eddie.

Eddie punched him back which only fired up Regal more. Regal then got mad. Eddie reversed the uppercut into a backslide pin for the win using Regal’s aggression against him. I loved that finish where Regal’s temper got the better of him. Eddie out-wrestled and out-smarted Regal. This get a big thumbs up from me.

 

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Lex Luger and Sting. After all of this time, we’ve finally got tensions running between Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to talk to Luger about triangle match at Starrcade where Luger grabbed his arm to prevent him from winning. Sting asked Luger: “what’s that about” to which Mean Gene stirred things up and said “that’s not the kind of friend I’d wanna have!” I loved Mean Gene providing commentary to what each man said and bouncing of these comments with questions to the other guy. He come off as a legitimate interviewer, taking interest in what these wrestlers were saying and helping with their delivery and giving questions that actually are relevant to the storyline.

Luger said he hurt his knee during the Starrcade match and he wanted Sting to help him up as he reached out to him during the match. It was the mother of all bullshit heel excuses but, to Luger’s credit, it played into the friendship part of this storyline as Luger tried to reach out to Sting who he thought of as a friend even in the heat of battle. Sting said he never thought about being a tag team but he’s up for teaming with Luger. They’re facing the New Bloods at Clash of Champions.

 

They plugged, of all matches, RIC FLAIR VS RANDY SAVAGE FOR THE WORLD TITLE AT WCW SATURDAY NIGHT! This had to be a DQ finish to book a world title match for this show!

 

Sting vs DDP

x480.jpg

I don’t particular know what to make of this match. This match was off in parts and they tried to turn it into a good match but it just didn’t seem to click. Especially after watching Benoit, Eddie and Regal in aciton in the first half of the show.

DDP went to work early on. DDP got Irish Whipped into the ropes and landed in the middle of them like Andrade “Cien” Almas would but Sting simply dropkicked him and did a dive to DDP onto the floor.

Sting fell to the floor as he tried a leapfrog on DDP. DDP was just to tall for him to leapfrog it seems. I don’t think that was planned just for DDP to get the heat. If it was then I don’t think it was a good idea.

So DDP got the heat. DDP hit a swinging neckbreaker. DDP locked on a sleeper hold and constantly tried to have his feet on the ropes. Sting fired up to his feet but DDP slammed him back down. Bischoff, as DDP had the sleeper holder on, decided now was the time to say: “WCW gave the fans what the fans asked for.” Lord knows that all the fans wanted at this point was a sleeper hold on Nitro.

Sting mounted a comeback, hit a Stinger Splash and tried a Scorpion Deahtlock but DDP got the ropes before it was locked in. DDP hit a neckbreaker. Sting tried a small package to which DDP responded to a poke to the eye as soon as they both got to their feet.

Sting landed on his feet from a back drop attempt, locked on the Scorpion Deathlock and Sting got DDP to tap out as the fan went nuts. The fans went nuts for Sting at the finish and he was incredibly over here.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

maxresdefault (3).jpg

At least Savage and Hogan were colour coordinated for this match both wearing the red and yellow! Ric got tagged in from the get-go. Flair wanted Hogan in the ring so Savage obliged and tagged in the Hulkster.

God Hogan could barely do a hammerlock of all moves in this match. Flair then delivered a HUGE CHOP, a chop so hard that the ref fell out of the camera shot he sold the impact of this so well. The ref just fell backwards! It sounded like a hard hit too… and Hogan just no sells it and runs wild!

He ran wild some more with clotheslines and scoop slams to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Arn got tagged in. Savage got tagged in and worked on the arm. Savage nailed Arn with a double axe handle to the outside and then a double axe handle in the ring.

Hogan ran around and chased Flair, and ended up pulling down Flair’s trunks from the looks of it. Somehow, this led to Flair getting the heat on Savage. I have no idea how that worked!

Of course Flair goes to the top rope and gets pushed off. Savage does his own Figure Four Leg Lock. Hogan drops Arn and then does his own Figure Four as a fan throws trash into the ring following Hogan’s attempt in the Figure Four! Just the simple thought of Hogan doing the Figure Four seemed to disgust this one fan! Some folks were losing their mind though as Hogan did the Figure Four. Hogan did this move without like even putting his leg over. He just tied up the legs and went down for the Figure Four Leg Lock!

Arn then went to work and hit a DDT, Flair went for a cover but Hogan breaks it up. Flair threw Savage off the top rope. Arn worked on Savage on the outside.

Savage got a sleeper hold locked on Arn but Flair gouged the eyes of Savage to break it up. Savage tried some desperation small packages. Arn went for a DDT but Savage got the top rope to avoid it. Flair accidentally knocked Savage into Hogan for the tag.

Hogan ran wild on Flair. Hogan hits a big double clothesline to heels to the outside. Arn hits a beautiful spinebuster on Hogan, who just gets right back up. Hogan hits the big boot and hits the leg drop. Hogan got the pin but as the Horsemen ran down, the Dungeon of Doom attacked the Horsemen. I thought when I saw the Horsemen that they’d break it up for the DQ but no… we got a clean pin in a NITRO main-event!

The Horsemen brawled with the Dungeon. The Giant attacks Hogan and Savage in the ring. Giant barely got Hogan up for the chokeslam. He slammed Savage too but then Zodiac stops The Giant again, as he did last week, as the show goes off the air.

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

I’m assuming The Four Horsemen and the Dungeon of Doom will end up working together down the road anyway but for the time being, I do love the idea of the two heel groups at odds as there’s no honour among thieves. That I liked. A decent show but not as good as last week’s show I don’t think. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out in this period before the nWo hit WCW. It’s very hard to tell how things will turn out. We’ll be back with Episode 20 on the next edition of the WCW series as part of the Armbar Express’ Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

 

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #18 (JANUARY 1ST 1996) – WCW KICK OFF 1996 WITH HULK HOGAN VS RIC FLAIR

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

maxresdefault

WCW were victorious in the battle between themselves and NJPW at Starrcade 1995. They won the series 4-3 as Sting and Lex Luger hoisted the trophy up and celebrated with the rest of Team WCW. Sting and Luger then turned their attentions to each other and Ric Flair in a triangle match for a crack at the WCW World Title. They both lost as Flair picked up a count out victory and then, due to interference from the Four Horsemen, Flair won his 12th world title by beating the WCW World Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

 

Date: January 1st 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Atlanta, Georgia

Rating: 2.5 (The first time in 3 weeks that Nitro lost to RAW in the ratings)

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

A brief warning to those who are unaware about wrestling history from 1996. This company is about to flipped completely on its head in terms of the type of content they would be producing. Here we start in 1996 with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan competing for the WCW title. A year from now, big turns will take place, major signings will take place and very much the product will be nothing like what it is now.

 

Randy Savage vs Arn Anderson

maxresdefault (4).jpg

For those wondering, in the off chance you didn’t read my review for WCW Starrcade 1995, Randy Savage and Arn Anderson squared off here because Arn cost Savage the title at Starrcade. He ran down and laid out Savage with the brass knuckles and Flair covered Savage. This match was done as a blow-off if you will for that finish and it was actually a good scrappy match.

I also want you to keep this in mind because Savage was visibly shown to be seething at Arn as he attacked the man. This was a man pissed off that he lost the title and he was looking for retribution. He huffed and puffed as he beat up Arn in this match. He even ran into the ring to attack Arn for the opening bell. He raked at Arn’s eyes and Arn raked Randy’s eyes. This was a dirty, scrappy fight in its core with both men doing whatever it took to lay in punishment.

Arn worked the arm and smashed Savage’s arm into the post. He locked on an arm lock for a few minutes. He hit a big DDT out of nowhere which actually got a big pop to which Savage got his foot on the rope. I actually like that he hit the signature out of nowhere. It wasn’t like a formula where you wait for the end for the big moves to be hit. Arn wanted to win so he hit a big move at the first chance he could after working on the arm.

Arn tried to use the brass knuckles as the Horsemen ran down. Savage reversed it and used the brass knucks himself for the win. I liked the finish of Savage pulling one over on the heels by giving them a piece of their own medicine. A smart babyface being able to out-think the Four Horsemen. I liked this.

d91d1171-d0c3-566a-b23a-dfb893d0ab0b_2000x.jpg

Benoit and Pillman ran down and pleaded to the ref afterwards. By the way, the Horsemen had a t-shirt on. I’ve just put the picture on the blog and it’s such a pretty t-shirt which I’d very much wanted to track down. I was able to find it on Amazon and I’ve submitted the order, as there was a wrestling t-shirt seller that did have this shirt available in my size. I’m very much happy with this purchase.

 

Chris Benoit vs Steven Regal

hqdefault (1).jpg

Speaking of the Horsemen, Chris Benoit had a match with Steven Regal. It was a sublime piece of professional wrestling and it told a very simple, subtle and effective story. They started off with the test of strength and soon as Benoit grounded him, Regal battered away with headbutts.

Regal went to work with European uppercuts so it had the same feel to Savage vs Arn in that it was scrappy but it was more of a defined scrappiness where both men are scrappy with the intention of just winning the match. Savage and Arn wanted to like hurt each other because of their bad blood. For Regal and Benoit, it was just business.

Benoit dropped Regal right on his head with a German suplex to which Regal responded with a beautiful butterfly suplex. Regal took even more punishment with a big electric chair drop. Regal, I don’t know what it was, but he sold and sold for Benoit in a bumpier fashion than usually. He took some hard hits for Benoit.

In terms of evening things up in terms of hurting themselves, Benoit missed a diving headbutt and then Regal wailed on him with headbutts. These were like the most realistic but safest headbutts you could possibly pull off though. This was not like Shibata levels of insanity with these headbutts.

Regal tried a tombstone but Benoit reversed it into a tombstone piledriver of his own but Regal rolled to the floor. If this had not happened the night before with Benoit and Liger, this would have probably played way better to this crowd and to me. By the way, Regal didn’t even try to wrap his arms around Benoit for protection when taking this Tombstone Piledriver. Regal waved his arms in panic as Regal had some serious faith in Benoit to deliver the move to him. In Regal’s defense, Benoit pulled it off fine from the looks of it. Eric Bischoff then said Benoit “perfected that move as of late.” I thought: “Oh yeah, how about when Benoit tried it at the PPV but Liger reversed it?” I’d say “perfecting the move” from a kayfabe point is stretching it.

Benoit missed a springboard splash to the floor and smashed into the concrete floor. Regal rolled Benoit into the ring and pinned him. A great match and you know what, it told a story where Benoit kept taking risks and in the end, he misjudged a dive and it ended up costing him the match. This was an awesome match. I’d go out of your way to go watch this ten minute perfectly sound and solid wrestling match.

 

Brian Pillman cut a promo on Benoit and Arn with Mean Gene coming down to the ring with the mic. Pillman chewed out Benoit and Arn for losing. Benoit said that the only way Benoit can be beaten is sheer luck. Benoit says he’s proven himself. Pillman goes into Arn and he talks crap about the Dungeon of Doom again. Arn talks about Pillman starting fights that they didn’t need right now. He tells them they need to protect the world title for Ric Flair. Arn tells them there’s nothing to achieve going after Mr Wonderful and the Dungeon of Doom. Zodiac, Taskmaster, The Giant and Jimmy Hart suddenly all go down to the ring. Zodiac and Taskmaster try to attack the Horsemen but THE GIANT is the one hold them back with just his two massive arms as Jimmy Hart pleads with the Dungeon of Doom.

 

Sting and Lex Luger vs The Super Assassins w/Col. Parker

x1080-PTV.jpg

One of the true highlights of this episode was the Super Assassins. These two were in fact The Barbarian and The Warlord of all people. These were flanked by Col. Parker. These guys couldn’t have looked like bigger geeks. The Super Assassins waddled down with their arms out like robots. It was like their singlets got stuck in a frame and they walked around like the frame was still on.

They come out in this gear. I have no idea if these guys were supposed to look like super heroes, ninjas or luchadors but they did not come out looking like Super Assassins! Anyway, they come out to have a horrible match with Luger and Sting. They even had a split screen during this match because Sgt. Pittman comes down to the announce booth and ask Steve “Mongo” McMichael for help. Pittman went to Bobby Heenan previously, he went to Jimmy Hart on Nitro and now he’s resorted to going to Mongo for help!

By the way, to anyone who said they were only willing to cutaway from cruiserweight matches on Nitro, they were willing to cut away from STING AND LEX LUGER in action so they could do a segment with SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN. Mongo basically told Pittman to get lost.

Sting, as this is going on, is beating up the Assassins by himself. So when they finally cut away from Pittman and the announcers, we just catch Sting rolling out of the ring and onto the floor. I have no idea what the Assassins did to suddenly get the heat on Luger and Sting. Maybe they threw a ninja star at him. But all of a sudden, the Assassins overcame Sting and went to work.

When I mean “they went to work”, a Super Assassin gets Sting in a dominator/backbreaker position and then just… vibrates. No word of lie. He doesn’t like bounce up and down like Luger with the torture rack. He stands and vibrates like The Yeti at Halloween Havoc with Sting on top of him selling. It’s one of the funniest submission attempts I’ve ever seen.

Sting wrestles for the tag. As the Assassins distract the ref, Luger gets the hot tag but the ref didn’t see it. The Assassins did a suplex/spear combination but the ref is too busy arguing with Luger to pay attention. An Assassin hits a powerbomb. The Assassin goes on the apron, fixes his gear and goes to the top but he misses a top rope splash.

This finish was exceptionally badly executed. Luger got a hot tag to a big pop. Luger goes to work. Luger goes for the Torture Rack on an Assassin. Luger waits for the Sting to get in the ring so he turns around and spins into the second Assassin as he has the first one on his shoulders for the Torture Rack still. Sting finally wakes up and gets in, he does a chop block on the other assassin and eventually gets him into the Scorpion Deathlock so Sting and Luger can do a double submission spot. The Assassins finally tap out after all of this.

It took them forever to get to that position where both men are doing submissions on the Super Assassins. All they had to do was get the Assassins into position and it took them like 30 seconds to do this. Other wrestlers that have been locked in the torture rack by Luger lately for like 5 seconds before they tap. This move has been put over big as of late. This Assassin, because of this screw up where Luger is waiting for Sting, lasts like 20-30 seconds in the Torture Rack! They inadvertently made that Super Assassin look incredibly strong in this match!

This match was amazingly horrible!

 

Mean Gene does an interview with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Mean Gene cracks a joke and then Jimmy Hart goes: “Are you really that short or are you just standing in a hole?” Mean Gene suddenly gets all defensive and goes “STOP IT.”

Jimmy cuts this promo as Mean Gene just keeps looking up at the Giant. Jimmy said some stuff as my notes read. The Giant yells at Hogan for costing him the title a few weeks ago and attacking him with the chair. The Giant said Hogan was gonna get his like he’s never got it before. Mean Gene concludes by saying: “I have no idea what he just said.”

 

Ric Flair (c) vs Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

WCW-Nitro-1996-Hogan-Flair-WWE-Network-e1483279815386.png

It is rather astonishing to me that the WWF never did this match at WrestleMania when they had the chance. This was legitimately the biggest match you could have possibly booked between two of the biggest wrestlers in the history of wrestling. Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair. They had it RIGHT THERE, I think they even announced it on TV, and then it just… never happened.

…thankfully we had Nitro and we got it for free on TNT,

There was noticeable boos for Hogan but it was more like 60/40 in favour for the Hulkster. I don’t wanna make comments on someone’s age but man Hogan’s lack of hair was really visible here. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until Vince Russo called him bald on TV where he did a lawsuit for someone slandering his hair! Did Hogan not re-watch this match? Hogan looked so old and if there’s anything he didn’t need to make himself look any older was this hair without a bandanna and him in his traditional yellow tights. Thankfully, he’s getting a new wardrobe around 6 months from now so it’s all good!

Flair chopped away and then Hogan started no selling it. I’d say this gimmick of Flair chopping at someone but the other dude no-selling was getting old, as Luger and Sting did this the night before. However, the fans were still going nuts for this as Hogan rained in the punches. Ric Flair cuts off Hogan and Hogan does a horrible bump to the floor.

Hogan had a horrible night here. He just didn’t look impressive at all. Hogan does a big clothesline to Flair and Flair crashes onto the apron. Ric works on Hogan. Bischoff said you can hear the fans going “Hogan, Hogan” to which I didn’t hear a thing watching this on television. I then heard the fans going WOOOO and cheering as Flair locked on the figure four leg lock.

Hogan turns it over and Jimmy Hart runs down. Hogan is distracted as Flair stomps on the leg to regain the heat. Flair did a stalling suplex to Hulk Hogan which is quite a feat of strength considering how tall and big Hogan was here.

Flair goes for a cover but Hogan hulks up out of it. Hogan fires away does the big boot and Leg Drop as Jimmy gets on the apron. Arn hits Hogan with the brass knucks and Hogan NO SELLS THE BRASS KNUCKS. Of course if anyone was going to no-sell getting hit with brass knucks, it’s Hulk Hogan!

Hogan gets the brass knucks thrown at him and the referee sees Hogan with the brass knucks and calls for the DQ. At the very least, it made sense to me why the referee immediately didn’t question it as they’d had a big match at Starrcade where brass knucks were involved. Hell, the opening match on this episode of NITRO had a finish where brass knucks were involved!

Hogan then fires away at the Four Horsemen with the brass knucks as the Horsemen beg him off. I assume they begged him off because Hogan, I guess is still on probation so if Hogan wails on them with brass knucks, Hogan would be in trouble with WCW… in storyline.

The Giant runs down with a big chair stool. I have no idea in which coffee shop The Giant got this stool from but Savage stopped him and made the save too a big pop! This time Zodiac backs The Giant away.

Mean Gene did a interview with Hogan and Savage. Hogan and Savage challenged Arn and Flair to a tag team match for next week. Savage said they had a secret weapon but Hogan tells him not to spoil it. Hogan said they’re gonna go to infinity and beyond. These two were rather going nuts!

Bischoff did actually have a good line. Bobby said they should make Jimmy Hart a referee to which Bischoff goes: “Make Jimmy an appetiser.” That I liked.

50482d44719535.5a1dcf2f71e46

I liked this episode of Nitro. We got some really good scrappy matches with Regal vs Benoit and Arn vs Savage. We got a big world title main-event, we got our Super Assassins and it really didn’t seem like a chore to watch at all. It seemed very easy to watch the show, absorb and understand the storylines and motivations and to be prepared for next week where we have the Mega Powers reuniting to face the Four Horsemen. It was a great show.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW STARRCADE 1995 (DECEMBER 27TH 1995)

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

5866591

Starrcade 1995 is here. The World Cup of Wrestling… well at least the 1995 version of it. Not TNA’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling. Not WWE’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling from last year. Nope… WCW’s take it on it. By World Cup, they mean the USA’s WCW taking on Japan’s NJPW in a best of seven series. 7 of WCW’s best taking on 7 of NJPW’s best. Who will walk away with the honors?

Along with this, we had a triangle match between Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair. Whoever won this booked themselves an immediate title match against the Macho Man Randy Savage for the WCW title. Would one of the worst world title reigns of all time continue or would either Luger, Sting or Flair take the title from the Macho Man?

 

Date: December 27th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennessee

Attendance: 8,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

20140123_Article_Network_NETWORK2.jpg

Before I get into this mega review, as these PPVs always seems to be with the WCW series, I have to mention some difficulties I had watching this PPV. This was the first show I watched since they switched the format of the WWE Network. If you’re subscribed to the Network and have watched anything in the last few weeks, you’ll understand.

It now has a format very similar to Netflix where if you scroll down, at least on a PS4 console, it just has list after list of categories and stuff. When I scrolled down, not once was able to find Starrcade 1995 or anything from my watchlist of content. I had podcasts saved I wanted to watch, I had some NWA matches I wanted to watch. I even have Total Divas saved on there but that’s an entirely different story for another time…

Anyway, I couldn’t find my watchlist including the Starrcade 1995 which I’d saved. So, I had to go find it. On a positive, they did group all of the WCW stuff together now. It used to be where you’d have to find the PPVs under PPVs and all of the Nitros under Vault or whatever that section was called. Now, if you look for WCW, it’s all there. PPV, Thunders, Nitro… even the WWE’s Monday Night Wars series they did. It’s all there.

I find it. I sit down and I get ready to watch the show. Then I have another problem, which is actually not WWE’s, WCW’s or any wrestling promotion’s fault. My remote starts playing up. I try to turn up the volume and, for some reason, it turns off my TV. I have no idea what happened to it but when I tried to turn up the volume, the TV turned off with Starrcade still running. I could turn it down no problems but I could not turn it up.

I find away around it and eventually, I got settled. Then I get all the way to the Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono match. I had to stop to go get a protein bar or whatever it was I went to get. I had to get something. I come back and the match has already started playing on my PS4. So I try to re-wind it and, if you have the WWE Network, you know where I’m going with this….

I try to re-wind and I could only re-wind back 10 seconds at a time. You could rewind back 10 seconds, you could fast-forward 10 seconds… no less. Even if you missed like one spot in particular, you’d have to rewatch the last 10 seconds just so you can see a small detail. Unbelievably annoying this was. Also, if you rewind 10 seconds and then when you want to go back a little bit further because you realise that’s not enough time to rewind, the Network crashes. It completely crashed twice during the Luger/Chono match to the point where I had to turn off my PS4 off and start over.

Another positive I guess is that points and highlights of the show are easier to get to it when skipping forward but you still have to rewatch the whole segment or match from the beginning. I saw Luger flexing at the start of that match like 3 times during one watch of this Starrcade.

I’m hoping the Network changes things back because this is gonna make watching Nitros awkward for the foreseeable future.

 

Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger in Match #1 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

x1080.jpeg

This wasn’t particular;y one of the better Benoit matches I’ve started this series but this was by no means a bad match. It was pretty solid… minus a horrible finish which I think hurt the match. I think the fundamental flaw of this match is a fundamental flaw of many wrestling matches nowadays. It was all about the moves.

The best thing about great Benoit matches was that there was always a purpose for 70% of what he did in the ring to either progress the story or to do something which would make sense in the structure of an actual wrestling match. This match didn’t really embody this that strongly. It was just a bunch of moves, executed really well, that were put together until someone ran in which led to the finish.

I mean it started off well. Benoit won the test of strength. Liger got to his feet and did a hurricanrana and a Liger kick. Benoit, the heel, did a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to thunderous cheers. It was a common theme on the his show was that there was purely blind loyalty to the US on this show. This was to the point where even the heels Lex Luger and Benoit got thunderous babyface reactions for one night.

Liger did a great belly-to-belly suplex and followed it up with a fake out back flip. Benoit did a snap suplex and a back suplex. Benoit actually whipped out a Liontamer of all submissions!

Benoit did a crisp German suplex with a bridge to big cheers for Nashville! Liger did a bow and arrow submission to Benoit and then locked on the dragon sleeper for extra twerk.  Liger then went to work with a camel clutch.

Benoit reversed this camel clutch into an electric chair. Liger countered a back suplex into a crossbody. Benoit’s tombstone attempt reversed into a Liger tombstone slam. Benoit went up for the superplex and the crowd ERUPTED after Benoit hit this… it was astonishing how much these fans popped for this move!

Benoit missed a diving headbutt which was followed up with Liger hitting a sit-out powerbomb. Liger did a brainbuster. Benoit did one german suplex and then Benoit hit a second and he SLAMMED Liger into the mat. This was a hard hit. Benoit hit a powerbomb. Benoit went up for a diving headbutt when the Taskmaster ran down with fellow Dungeon of Doom member Jimmy Hart holding him back. Benoit was distracted and Liger did a somewhat hurricanrana roll up for the win.

Bit of a silly finish to an otherwise solid opening match.

WCW 0 -1 NJPW

Match Rating: *** (Feels a bit of a low rating but there wasn’t much of a story to the match for it to be higher. The moves were done crisply well and well executed but it was just a bunch of moves and the Taskmaster interference ruined it for me.)

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie said Taskmaster had no business being in the match against Benoit. Eddie said it was an honour to represent WCW and he was just happy to be here. He talks about his opponent Shinjiro Otani. Eddie says Otani is a tremendous athlete but Eddie had to be on top of his game. Eddie said he hit the gym and he said he’d give it his best. Mean Gene said he saw Eddie do push-ups and getting read for the match to which Eddie smiled! This was a great promo.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Alex Wright in Match #2 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

download (1)

They confirmed Hulk Hogan would be wrestling on Nitro which basically confirmed that Hogan was only to serve a one week suspension for going crazy with attacking officials, wrestlers and referees with chairs in the past month or so. It was like storylines emulating life with these weak punishments for WCW wrestlers. If we stick around to around the 2000s of WCW, you’ll see just how bad at punishing these wrestlers this company will get.

I liked this next match. It was Alex Wright vs Koji Kanemoto for Match #2. It was the fast, quick pace of Wright against the fast, quick but controlled pace of Kanemoto. I don’t know whether Koji was a face or a heel in NJPW at the time but here on this show, in US soil, he played the role well as the evil foreigner going as far as roaring at one fan!

Wright started off with dropkick headscissors to which Kanemoto responded by unloading chops and kicks to the leg, and then followed it up with a big wheel kick. Kanemoto gets Wright laying on the top rope, slapped him on the belly multiple times and did a dropkick to the gut! A creative little spot that I liked! Unlike anything you’d normally see in a match.

Kanemoto did a dive. I will say it bothered me when Wright ran right to the hard cam to catch Koji and just stood there as he dove on him. He didn’t even try to hide that he was waiting for Koji to catch him. Kanemoto did a tiger suplex but Wright’s feet was on the rope. Kanemoto did a moonsault but didn’t go for the cover. Wright leapfrogged Kanemoto in the corner and did a big german suplex for a near fall.

They battled for a while until Kanemoto dropped Wright face first on the top turnbuckle and followed it up with a bridge pin for the win. The right man won considering Kanemoto was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Wright beating him here would have just made NJPW looked very weak.

WCW 0 – 2 NJPW

Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Sonny Onoo, who was the spokesman for Team NJPW. Mean Gene plugged the WCW Hotline. Sonny said it should be 5-0 right now to NJPW. Sonny vowed to buy WCW and Iowa. Mean Gene said WCW is not up for sale but advised that Iowa is a whole different story! Sonny said everything is for sale to which Mean Gene replied: “well you Japanese would know that!” Sonny messed with Mean Gene and Mean Gene got confused.

 

Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono in Match #3 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

x1080 (1).jpeg

As I mentioned, it was here when I had the WWE Network issues with it crashing. It crashed at least twice if I recall correctly. To be fair, I wasn’t missing much with regards to this match. Really, I only needed to wait until near the end of the match. We got a legendary commentary moment which I will get too in a little a bit. I actually mentioned this in one of the WCW PPV reviews I did. I can’t remember which one but I at least knew what was coming!

The one thing I wanted to say, before we even get to that, was that Luger was such a heel in the last few months and now in Starrcade, the fans WENT NUTS for him coming out to deal with the Japanese! He was so beloved and over during this match, at least in this match anyway. Bobby Heenan even brought this up that he’s only being cheered because he’s going up against New Japan… the HEEL is the voice of right here!

Luger gorilla pressed Chono,  flexed and the fans went BONKERS for Team America. Chono did a big boot to send Luger crashing to the outside. Chono did a suplex. The fans chanted USA. Chono did a sleeper and dropped him with the reverse DDT. Chono locked on the STF. Bobby got all flustered with confusion with his WCW/NJPW Support. Then we got… the moment.

Mashario Chono throws this kick, and then Tony Schiavonie, WCW Professional Wrestling Commentator, refers to this kick as the Mafia Kick. In a match between the USA’s WCW and Japan’s NJPW, he calls this move the “Mafia Kick.” The responses from fellow commentators on this night, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, were GLORIOUS.

Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan buried him so hard. Before I watched this series, I’d seen this clip of Dusty and Bobby burying Tony before on YouTube over and over again. Here, I watched it again as part of the series and I died with laughter.

Dusty starts off by going “where do you get all of this?” to which Tony replies that this is his job. Dusty says that he kicked him right in the middle of the mush and re-iterates it has nothing to do with the Mafia. Dusty Rhodes goes: “Hell watcha talking about?” I laughed, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I was reduced to tears, I was laughing so hard.

Then Bobby takes over as Dusty starts laughing at Tony. He yells, at the top of his lungs, “TONY HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD!” Again, I laughed, I laughed and I laughed. Chono comes off the top and Luger hits him with the elbow and Dusty calls this saying that he hit him with the “Sicilian Elbow!” Bobby brings up a Yugoslavian Neckbreaker and he again goes… “HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!” He goes… “HE KICKED HIS BOSNIAN BUTT… HOW YA LIKE THAT?” My faces is red, tears are running down my face at this point! Then Luger locked on the Torture Rack for the win and to a HUGE POP by the fans. Fans went CRAZY for Luger. I was still in tears after Dusty’s promo on Tony Schiavonie.

This put Tony in his place for the way he would literally just make up names for the basic moves of the wrestlers. Remember when Johnny B Badd did a dive and he’d call it the Badd Mood? Tony came up with all of these crap names and Dusty and Bobby rightful destroyed him for it. These are professional wrestlers and Tony not calling the moves properly exposed the business and disrespects the wrestler that apply their craft in the ring. I’m paraphrasing Joey Styles’ shoot promo from 2006 but he’s right. This Chono just threw and kick and he had to call it something wacky. HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!

WCW 1-2 NJPW

Match Rating: *1/4

 

Sting did an interview with Mean Gene. Mean Gene reminds us that Sting lost the US title to Kensuke Sasaki, his NJPW opponent for tonight. I did mention this during the World War III review I believe. Sting cut a promo on Sonny Onoo. He talks about the triangle match. Sting talks about how Luger said he’s gonna do what’s he’s gonna do but Sting is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Sting gets all excited and Mean Gene goes YEAH. Great promo I wrote but your usual Sting promo at its very core.

 

WCW Television Champion Johnny B Badd w/Kimberley vs Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo in Match #4 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

masa-saito-wcw.jpg

This was kind of a mess of a match here. Sonny Onoo cut a promo and said Kimberley should be at home cooking and that’s what is wrong with this company. Kimberley got the mic retorting with “this ain’t no Japanese bathhouse.” She says: “If this sport is just for men, then what are you doing here?”

Saito did a STO and locked on a choke from the ground position. Saito murdered Badd with some chops to the chest. Badd would slap him back but Saito battered and battered Badd in relation with chops. They sounded so hard and this was just brilliant to me.

Things kinda fell off a cliff here. Sonny choked Badd with the Japanese flag. Sonny grabbed the hair. Badd got back into a match and did a sunset flip. Badd fired back. Badd got his hands Sonny Onoo and then Saito dumped Badd over the top rope for the DQ. Badd then did the “Badd Mood” flip to the outside thing and missed by 100 yards. An absolute nothing match with one noteable spot where Masa beat the crap out of Johnny B Badd.

WCW 2-2 NJPW

Match Rating: *1/4

NOTES: Masa Saito actually passed away July 2018. R.I.P. Masa Saito as I’m not sure if we’ll see another WCW match with him during this series so I’ll say it now.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart did an interview with Mean Gene. Luger talked about Kevin Sullivan aka The Taskmaster. He says Sullivan has a short fuse. Luger said all the top names in WCW are all after the top title. Luger said Savage is a pathetic one arm champion. He would have torn his arm out of its socket at World War III if it wasn’t for Sting. Luger says he’s going into the match by himself. Jimmy told Lex to bring home the gold and Mean Gene responded saying he has a book of clichés if he needs it! Great banter from Mean Gene! He had some great lines during this show!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani in Match #5 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

shinjiro-ohtani-vs-eddie-guerrero.png

I LOVED this match. Eddie Guerrero matches in WCW as of late have been so great. He had a great match with Johnny B Badd if I recall correctly, he had good matches with Benoit, he had a great match with Flair two weeks ago and here’s another one. Him and Otani. This was a great wrestling match and my personal favourite match of the night.

Otani took control of the arm from the get-go and raked at the face of Guerrero. Guerrero stood on Otani’s face, retribution for Otani going for the eyes. They grappled on the mat. Eddie turned things around with a hurricanrana. Eddie did a slingshot senton into the ring.

Eddie locked on the Boston Crab and followed it up with big powerbombs and brainbusters. Otani hit a nice springboard dropkick into the ring and then a springboard crossbody to the outside. Otani hit a German suplex and Eddie hit a frankensteiner for a near fall.

Eddie hit a big gory powerbomb for a near fall. Otani did a springboard dropkick to the back of the head of Guerrero. This was very much back and forth stuff.

Otani tried a dragon suplex. Eddie reversed it into a hurricanarana roll-up. A few roll-ups later, Otani picked up the win with a cradle of his own.

I probably wouldn’t have beaten Eddie here but he only barely just lot and it wasn’t like Eddie was buried here. Otani was just the better man.

A great match.

WCW 2-3 NJPW

Match Rating: ****

 

Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW, this time with WCW Champion Randy Savage. God bless Mean Gene but he was all over this show. Savage cuts off Mean Gene. Savage said he liked being the underdog and Savage says he’s coming to get Tensan tonight. Mean Gene says he was off the phone with a suspended Hogan and Savage interrupts with “WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?” Hogan apparently asked for Savage’s mindset. Savage said he’s gonna even the score for WCW. He said: “Sting, be there for the USA.” Savage was wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan while Sting was wrestling Kensuke Sasaki.

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (or as the name plate called him Tensan) in Match #6 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

download (3)

Another absolute nothing match. I understand Savage was injured here but at the same time, why did he work two matches on this show? You couldn’t get someone else to come in and beat Tensan in this match if Savage was working with an injury?

Tensan worked on Savage. Savage tries to fire back but Savage’s punches are no-sold by Tensan. Tensan clocked Savage with a big wheel kick. Tensan delivered a Samoan Spike to the floored Savage. Tensan did a samoan drop and a headbutt for a near fall.

Tensan missed a moonsault. After a suplex struggle, Savage only manages to lift Tensan into the ropes. Savage hit the elbow drop for the win to level things up for WCW.

Not a strong review from myself but this wasn’t a strong match to talk about. This was just another nothing match as things just kinda fell off a cliff for this PPV from this point. It really did just peak with Eddie and Otani.

WCW 3-3 NJPW

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair says tonight, we’re talking about the world title. Flair says Sting and Luger need to know to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair talks about being rested as he was literally losing his breath cutting this promo! Flair said he’d win the title. This was a fine promo.

 

Sting vs WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in Match #7 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

Starr09.png

Your typical Sting match which, again, isn’t a knock on Sting but there wasn’t anything really exceptional about it. Looking at the result, it really did no favours for Sasuke as the US Champion if you look at the finish.

Sting brought the US flag to the ring. Sting hit an early Stinger Splash but this was followed by the bulldog from Sasaki. Sasaki unleashed two clotheslines, he tried a third but Sting ducked and did a dropkick.

Sasaki worked on Sting and even locked Sting in his own Scorpion Death Lock. Sting huffed, and puffed and pushed Sasuki up in the air and out of the hold. That I liked.

Sting fired back and then locked on his Scorpion Death lock but Sasaki tried to fight to the ropes but Sting pulled him back into the middle of the ring but Sasaki eventually submitted and WCW won the World Cup.

Again, Sasaki wasn’t buried TOO badly but this was also the man that also just lost clean outright to Sting when Sting had another match (possibly two) to worry about on the same night. It wasn’t like Sasaki lost to Sting at his best which is the best way I can put it.

WCW 4-3 NJPW

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Team WCW celebrated and Luger did come out. Sting and Luger hoisted up the trophy together. They showed a great promo hyping up the triangle match with Luger, Sting and Flair.

 

Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair in a triangle match to determine the number one contender for the WCW Championship

Starrcade95_Flair.jpg

For a match featuring Sting and Ric Flair, this was such a chore of a match to sit through. You all know how much I’ve raved about Sting vs Ric Flair matches. They would never not be good. It’s the same formula but they always found a way to work with whatever crowd they were in front of. They threw Lex Luger into this triangle match and it was easily one of the dullest long matches I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t technically a bad match and it wasn’t as offensive as that tag team title match from Fall Brawl but it dragged, and dragged and dragged. We got stalling, and stalling and stalling and it did this match… no favours.

The rules were two men would start in the ring and one man would be on the outside and could tag in and out. Whoever got the first pinfall or submission won. So no, it wasn’t a “traditional” triple threat or three way dance you’d see nowadays. In this match, two guys would be in the ring as one man stood outside.

I don’t think there was ever a storyline reason for why Ric never wrestled in the WCW VS NJPW thing but Savage, Sting and Luger did. I’m not surely if they’ll actually explain it but the announcers made it clear that Ric was the one with the advantage supposedly in this match! Let’s all remember that.

Dusty made a Jack Daniels joke regarding Bobby’s drinking issues. Back to my point from Episode #17 about Flair’s selling everything, Sting literally just grabbed Ric’s hand here and wrenched it and Ric went AAAAAA! It was brilliant to see Flair in such pain a minute into wrestling a man that’d already wrestled earlier on in the show.

So Sting and Flair wrestled. Tony talked about Sting’s heart in fighting two men at Halloween Havoc by himself, not remembering that Flair did the same thing two weeks before that Halloween Havoc show. Flair locked on a hammerlock and forced Sting to the ground. Flair chopped and went back to the hammerlock. Sting fired back and launched Flair with hip tosses and gorilla presses.

Sting did the punches in the corner and even bit Ric Flair. Sting  and Flair brawled on the outside. Sting no-sols being slammed into the barricade. Sting missed a dropkick as Flair grabbed the top turnbuckle. Flair went to work on Sting and kept trying to tempt Luger into the ring. Sting went for a cover but Luger tried to break it up. Flair bumped Sting into Luger and Luger made a blind tag, flexing right at Flair.

So to recap, this match started with typical Sting and Flair spots. Every spot they’ve ever done in a WCW ring. Then Luger hits the ring and Luger and Flair had to just wrestle, and stall, and wrestle and stall.

Luger brought Flair into the ring, literally CARRIED HIM into the ring after he tried to escape. As much as it was basically Flair 101 for Flair to beg off the babyfaces, he did it way too much during this match. Like over and over again. Flair Flair Flopped after the punches in the corner. Then Flair takes control of Luger. Keep in mind, Flair had just been wrestling with just Sting and now, Flair worked on Luger and Flair had essentially dominated Sting and Luger for the majority of the match up until this point… and he’s the most heel of the bunch. Sting did get a bit of offense in when he was in the ring but mostly this match was Flair getting the heat on both men.

Flair hit Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair locked on the Figure Four and Luger turned it over. Luger and Flair struggled for a suplex but Luger won and suplexed Flair into the ring. Flair is punching away at Luger and Tony said, when Flair is just punching away at Luger, “Luger is starting to mount a comeback.” Tony was so bad calling this PPV.

Flair tagged in Sting trying to stir things up between Sting and Luger. Sting and Luger are now just standing around for about 2 minutes, felt like 30 minutes. Then they LOCK UP… we had to be like 15 minutes into this match. The fans start to boo and get restless. Sting and Luger have a clean break following a lock up and the fans boo more. Luger finally starts punching away at Sting. Sting fires back. Sting no-sold an atomic drop and hits a clothesline.

Luger smashed Sting with the clothesline. Luger kicked out of the top rope crossbody by Sting. Sting tried a Vader splash but Luger got the knees up. Sting try to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger got the rope. When Luger was floored, Luger actually low blowed Sting and then Luger worked on this nut shot and did an atomic drop! Tremendous groin-based offense!

Sting fired back and did a bulldog. Sting hit a Stinger Splash. Luger locked on a Torture Rack and the ref went down as Flair chopped blocked Luger. Both Sting and Luger were sent outside.

Flair wakes up the ref and the ref counts out Luger and Sting while Luger grabs Sting’s arm to keep him outside of the ring. Therefore, that meant Ric Flair wins.

They made me sit there through a 28 minute match with Sting, Luger and Flair, a 28 minute boring-ass match between these three and Flair wins… with a count-out.  So after Ric Flair wrestles the majority of a 28 minute match, he wins and Savage is sent in to do battle with him. An injured Randy Savage vs an exhausted Ric Flair for your Starrcade main-event.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Championship

2wftms1

Flair has about 5 minutes for a breather and then Savage comes out for the main-event. Savage starts working on Flair when MR WONDERFUL “PAUL ORNDORFF”, in a neck brace, appeared with his hands on his hips.

Savage missed a double axe handle to the outside as Doug Dillinger told Orndorff to head to the back. In hindsight, what was the point in Orndorff coming out? It’s not like he showed up in the post-match angle.

Flair worked on the arm. Flair chopped away at Savage. Flair, immediately after a 28 minute match, gets the heat and beats up Randy Savage who last wrestled more than an hour ago on this show. What a geek of a WCW Champion Randy Savage was here.

While Ric made it to the ring, Jimmy took a cheap shot kick at the gut of Savage. Ric did a hammerlock to Savage and dropped knees on the arm. Flair grabbed the wounded arm and just stretched it over his own shoulder. Savage fires back but runs into a sleeper hold. Savage does a backdrop

Jimmy threw the megaphone to Flair but Savage fought him, took the megaphone and used it on Flair which busted him up big time. Savage hit the elbow when the Four Horsemen ran down.

Benoit and Pillman ran down as Jimmy got the referee. Arn Anderson ran down and clocked Savage with the brass knuckles. Flair covers Savage to win the world title for the 12th time in his career as the fans go nuts.

The Horsemen have a big party in the ring. Pillman waffled Savage with the belt. and that’s how the show ends.

Match Rating: ¾*

ric-flar-randy-savage-arn-anderson-starrcade-1995.jpg

My initial reaction to this is, obviously, this pretty much solidifies Savage’s claim for one of the worst world title reigns of all time. All of Savage’s matches ended in a DQ and in the match where he loses the title, he gets his ass-kicked by an exhausted Ric Flair and gets beat. Was there shenanigans? Yes. But at the end of all of this, after Savage won what Buffer called the greatest battle royal in history last month, Savage drops the title to Flair and came off as a complete geek of a champion.

However, I will say this about the post-match celebration. Ric Flair sold this like it meant something and when you’re win your twelfth title reign and you still have to sell how much it means to you, that tells you how great Flair was. It still felt like a big deal when Flair won the title here and he sold it as if it was a big deal. The Horsemen were so happy, Pillman was going nuts and it showed legitimate passion that you don’t get from wrestlers nowadays. In a lot of ways, that was a success.

maxresdefault

That was Starrcade. That was an easier PPV review to do than I figured it would be. To be fair, a lot of the matches on this show were nothing matches. The big sell for the show was WCW vs NJPW but really the show-stealing matches were like Eddie vs Otani and Benoit vs Liger. Every other match was just in the area of slightly above average to an absolute nothing match and there was a lot of nothing matches where my reviews were just really short. Not a lot to say.

Going into 1995, the world title picture does have a bit of intrigue to it. Flair has the World title and Hogan apparently has a World title shot awaiting him after Starrcade. I’m pretty sure the match is happening on Nitro but this little period before the nWo arrive will be somewhat interesting to see how the world title picture shapes up before the big arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the WCW Starrcade 1995 review. We are now heading into 1996 which will be an eventful year for WCW and see a major shift in the wrestling landscape.

WCW Nitro Reading Order